The "social" part of social media took on a whole new weight in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic restricted people to small groups and away from indoor venues. That meant a switch to more social media activity online, and a shift in behaviors — some expected and some unexpected. If you manage a social media account, you may certainly feel like your wheels are spinning to move towards the right audience.
Social media marketing is all about meeting your target audience and customers where they are and as they socially interact with each other and your brand.
While social media marketing as a whole is incredibly valuable and beneficial to your business growth (as you'll see in the following section), your strategy will differ based on which social networks your audience spends their time on.
What is a social media marketing strategy?
Social media marketing is a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals. Social media marketing includes activities like posting text and image updates, videos, and and other content that drives audience engagement, as well as paid social media advertising.
We've created this guide to provide you with an introduction to social media marketing and some starter social media marketing tips and training to improve your business's social presence.
The importance of social media marketing
Today's consumers rush to browse social media when they want to know more about an organization or product because that's where they'll find others talking about that business. Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, consider your business's goals. Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. Your customers are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you're not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you're missing out! Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, creating devoted brand advocates and even driving leads and sales.
How your business can benefit from a social media marketing strategy
Generating inbound traffic and lead generation is the most crucial aspect of any business. Marketing on social media allows your business to broaden inbound traffic beyond your regular customers. Every social media platform your organization starts using adds another gateway that leads to your website. By marketing your business on different social media platforms, you're allowing your company to be seen by many different people that belong to various demographics. Social media can become one of your largest traffic sources if you're willing to put in the time and effort to maintain it.
Increased brand awareness
Because social media gives you the ability to engage with a broad audience, your brand recognition will significantly increase when you implement a social media strategy. When you first create your accounts, you can have your business partners and employees like and share posts to start spreading awareness about your brand throughout the different platforms. Having people interact with your content will help build credibility along with brand awareness. As you probably know, the more people that know about your business, the better.
Improved brand loyalty
Brand loyalty and customer satisfaction usually go hand in hand, which means it's essential that you're interacting with your customers and building a bond. This is where social media strategy comes in. It's far easier to create relationships with your customer base than ever before, thanks to social media.
What value does social media marketing brings to you?
Gaining support for your customers
When your customers follow your business on social media, they will begin to like the persona of your business. You can build a bond with your audience through engagement. These bonds are typically based on positive experiences. These bonds are important because people can move quickly from merely “liking” your business to defending it. Once a customer is in the “defend” stage of supporting your business, not only are they consistently engaging with your content, they are willing to fight for your organization.
Generating word-of-mouth for your products/services
Word-of-mouth goes along with gaining support. As people support you, they will inevitably start talking about you. All this talk will likely get you on the radar of socially influential people that can share your content with their large audiences. An influential re-post can be extremely valuable to your social media strategy.
Higher conversion rates
With the increased visibility that social media brings to your business, you gain more opportunities for conversion. As you share content and comment on your different platforms, your brand becomes personified. It's a fact that people prefer to do business with other people rather than a company. When you make a good impression on a visitor, that person is more likely to convert to a customer when their need for your product or service arises. Placing your brand in a space where people are liking, sharing, and talking can only improve the conversion rates on your current traffic.
Step by step: How to build your social media marketing strategy
Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, consider your business's goals. Starting a social media marketing campaign without a social strategy in mind is like wandering around a forest without a map—you might have fun, but you'll probably get lost.
Create marketing objectives and goals
First, you need to establish the goals and objectives you want to achieve with your social media efforts. You can pinpoint what these goals are by asking yourself why you want your business to be on social media in the first place.
Audit your current social media platforms
To develop an audit that is useful and actionable, consider including:
Current social media platforms your company is utilizing
Current social media performance by platform (followers, engagement rate, and top content)
How your performance compares to your competitors on each platform
Once you've completed your audit, you'll have data and a clearer picture as to which platforms you should focus most of your attention on. Note that it is far better to have a maximized presence on a few channels rather than a limited presence on many channels. Just because you can be on a social platform doesn't mean you should.
Pinpoint your ideal customer
Your ideal customer is essentially your buyer persona. Your company has probably already identified its buyer personas, but if not, check out our buyer persona template for specifics on creating one (or more) for your business. Once you understand your target audience, you will know their pain points and be able to market your business to the right audience in the right way.
Determine the type of content your business will share
Your social media audit will be able to help you out here. Determine which types of content perform the best with your audience. If you're starting from scratch, you can test various types of content on your audience to get an understanding of what they prefer.
Also, determine if videos, images, text updates, or links to resources are best for your audience. Learning what type of content your audience likes best will help the performance of the content you do post. If you know your audience likes image updates over text, you'll receive a higher engagement rate and, therefore, more impressions. You can also poll your audience directly to see what they want to see from your business. Once you have detected the types of content your audience wants, focus your efforts on their preferences.
Create a Mission Statement
Your mission statement may be one of the most critical aspects of your social media marketing strategy. It will clearly outline what you intend to use your social media platform for. A mission statement is typically a one-sentence statement revolving around the ideal customer. This statement will help you guide your actions and keep you on track with your goals.
Start by determining the purpose each social media platform will serve for your business. If you can't figure out what a particular role should be for a specific platform, your company will probably not be successful in it.
An example mission statement for a gym would be “We will use Instagram to inform existing and potential members of our current promotions and proper workout forms.”
Once you have determined this statement, it will be much easier for you to decide what type of content you want to create and share with your audience.
If a piece of content doesn't align with your mission statement, don't post it. Always remember that you want to position yourself as a thought leader in your space and create a trustworthy brand that is authentic to your business's core values and beliefs.
Track, Analyze, and Optimize your
The final and most impactful phase of your social media strategy is to start tracking, analyzing, and optimizing your content. When you're first starting out, you will be testing different techniques. Trial and error is one of the best ways to learn what performs best for your business.
Be sure to reevaluate each phase of your strategy and make necessary tweaks. The great thing about social media is that nothing needs to be permanent. If the style of videos your company is posting is not resonating with your audience, change it up. It's crucial that you are able to make quick changes, as social media platforms and algorithms are continually evolving.
Now that you know how to create a social media marketing strategy, go try it out! Remember, you have to create great content and share it with the world to reach your goals.